MCC awarded state grants for safety, college readiness

MANISTEE — Officials at Manistee Catholic Central Schools announced they were the recipients of two grants that will assist with the safety in their building and in helping students prepare for college.

Manistee Catholic Central students will be safer thanks to a $48,596 from the 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant that will allow them to add many safety measures.

One of those grants was  $48,596 from the 2019 Competitive School Safety Grant Program that was awarded by the State of Michigan and administered by the Michigan State Police. A total of $25 million in grant funds were distributed to 135 public school districts, 66 non-public schools, 20 charter schools and nine intermediate school districts.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer commented that school safety is on the mind of everyone today.

“Safety for our children should always be a top priority,” said Whitmer. “Every parent should have the peace of mind that their children are receiving an education that allows them to achieve their dreams under the safest possible conditions.”

Manistee Catholic Central principal Jason Allen said they are grateful for the security grant because it allows the school to make security upgrades without having to dip into their general funds.

“We have four big things that we are using the grant money for with one being access control,” said Allen. “That is we can control who comes into the building with an access control (buzzer button on the locked doors). We will also have more security cameras put in place around the school at the entrances to our building.”

Allen said they also will be adding a new intercom system to the school.

“We have older phones, so we are hoping to replace that system,” said Allen. “We want to get to a spot where we can just access everyone as we need to, so we are excited about that addition.”

The last security upgrade for the building will be the re-framing for the main entrance to the school.

“The doors and the frame with the access control piece kind of all goes together into one package,” said Allen.

Also $12,500 Reach Higher System Impact grant from the Michigan College Access Network (MCAN) went to Manistee Catholic Central. Dean of students Rachel Henderson said this will result in some big changes at MCC.

“This is actually the third time we have been awarded a grant from MCAN, ” said Henderson. “The first two times they were kind of small grants just to get programs started and to get the excitement going for college access,” said Henderson. “We did that through Ed Kolanowski when he was the dean of students and last year we received funding from our Manistee Catholic Central Foundation to continue the work we were doing.”

Henderson said they applied for the grant last June, but were asked to go deeper in their application and in turn were offered a larger grant to accomplish it. That one was submitted in December and awarded in February.

“We are now in the second to highest level of granting that they do,” said Henderson.

Being selected for the grant was quite an honor as only three other schools were chosen for grants that totaled $72,000. They included Escanaba High School, Holton High School and North Branch High School.

“The other schools are doing similar things,” said Henderson. “The whole idea is it is the Reach Higher System Impact Grant, so it is going to be something that changes our culture, schedule and our school.”

Henderson said they plan to implement a post secondary education planning course.

“I will meet with one grade of students from the ninth to the 12th grade one day of week,” said Henderson. “In that class we will be focusing solely on college and career readiness. It will be things like practicing for the SAT or applying for college.”

Right now Henderson will utilize her time to plan for the course and then in September she will implement it for the start of the 2019-20 school year.

MCC plans to use the money to strengthen their programs to promoting attending college and to expand and refine their Educational Development Plans in the process. They also support student credential completion by implementing systematic expansion of early college credit taking opportunities.

“The funds provided by the Reach Higher system Impact Grant Program will provide the resources necessary for schools to implement bold changes to help their students prepare for a college education and future careers,” said MCAN interim executive director Ryan Fewins-Bliss.

Henderson said they will give feedback to MCAN when they come to participate in at least two of the schools post secondary action committee meetings.

“On that committee they have teachers, past employees, parents and myself,” said Henerdson. “During he school year they will also visit. Without the grant it would be hard to plan and implement the course. It also includes some software and the supplies to get the class running.”

Henderson said she meets with some juniors and seniors who are unsure of what they want to pursue, so their hope is if they start as freshmen they will just build toward a goal over the next several years with the program.

“It’s going to change the whole culture of the school,” said Henderson.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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